EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE
Kids in Michigan are falling behind, and with it, so are our prospects to compete to attract businesses, families, and investment in the future. Our drops in achievement rankings span racial and economic spectrums, holding the next generation back from the ability to compete for jobs in a rapidly-evolving economy which will face huge changes with automation and machine learning. Moreover, fewer college students are going into teacher certification programs and our state is facing a looming teacher crisis. We need to recruit and retain world-class teachers and treat them like the professionals that they are, giving them the autonomy and support in and out of the classroom, and a voice at the policy-making table, that will allow them to inspire lifelong learnings in our kids. That way, they’ll be prepared for whatever the future holds.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- Michigan dropped from 28th to 41st nationwide in 4th grade reading and 27th to 42nd in math in just 10 years.
- Though Oakland County is home to some of the best public schools in the state, the looming teacher shortage poses a serious threat to that quality in the future. For example, out of 900 teachers in the Troy school district, ⅓ are eligible for retirement in the next 2-5 years. Such a teacher shortage will affect both public and private schools alike.
- Michigan’s school funding system is fundamentally broken, and schools drastically underfunded overall. Worse, a recent report revealed that the state took $4.5 Billion in K-12 funding to close budget holes elsewhere and provide corporate tax cuts.
- In Michigan, for-profit companies operate around 80% of all charter schools compared to just 16% of charter schools nationwide. Last year, Senate Republicans pushed legislation that allows such charter schools access to voter-approved millages initially intended for public schools, while charter school performance in Michigan are often lower-performing overall.
- Those carrying student loan debt in Michigan owe an average of more than $30,000, with 63% of all students carrying debt, 10th highest in the nation.
WHAT WE CAN DO
- Treat teachers like professionals: pay a fair salary, offer competitive benefits, and provide the resources they need to teach effectively both in and out of the classroom. Ensure that teachers are at the center of the conversation when developing education policy.
- Hold charter schools to the same rigorous standards as public schools, and stop funneling public funds to for-profit charters
- Offer universal pre-kindergarten to increase academic and overall achievement among all students and increase parents’ workforce participation
- Incorporate STEAM courses and integrate career/trade training with core education offerings, arts, and critical thinking to enhance students’ education options
- Increase funding for higher education to at least pre-recession levels, and promote hybrid community college courses to expand access to all Michiganders
- Create a tuition reimbursement program to retain Michigan talent and prevent “brain drain”